Rob Zombie, the shockmeister behind the darkly macabre and incoherent House of 1000 Corpses captures terror with cold herky-jerky brutality in The Devil's Rejects. The hand-held camerawork was shot on Super 16 without the use of dollys or Steadicam for a desired desaturated look.
This purported follow-up to Corpses conveys a strange madness that grinds away with affection to Tobe Hooper's The Texas Chainsaw Massacre and the freaky menace of Charles Manson. The violence and nudity on display here is extreme enough to remove the casual horror fan quickly out of his or her seat to the nearest exit. Much thought has been put into the homicidal and psychopathic tendencies, a transgressiveness that Zombie empathizes with and emphasizes to full gratuitous and ultimately, sentimental effect.
Many will call this torturous tale of heartless fiends, as the rock video helmer evinces the aura of seminal pictures like The Wild Bunch and Bonnie & Clyde, nihilism on the run. It centers on the Firefly clan, Otis (Bill Moseley) and Baby (Sheri Moon Zombie). They are being chased by one indefatigable Sheriff Wydell, a wicked William Forsythe, who gradually sheds all signs of his Christian rearing after the murder of his brother.
The method of maintaining a circle of fear and loathing of sadistic characters is assisted by Zombie's choices for the soundtrack and a decent supporting cast, not for the line readings or any trace of the understated. His screenplay is schematic more focused for what is truly monstrous. The irrational and abnormal gradually leads to some kind of viewer threshold being reached. But, the denouement has a sweeping western expressionism to it that would bring a smile to George A. Romero, even the masterful Sergio Leone.
Throughout what is physically upsetting and awfully deliquent, Baby has a teenage swagger and the dad, Sid Haig's comedic Captain Spaulding in wacky clown makeup knows how to enjoy himself like the showman that he is. The Devil's Rejects has a cruel, crass curiosity that wants to uncompromisingly knock you upside the head, but its manic spontaneity gestates into the guts and glory of the unforgiven.